In his first critical visit to Ayodhya, Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde will hold a massive show of strength along with his MLAs today, and offer prayers at Ram Temple and hold Sharayu Aarti in the evening. He will be accompanied by Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and several other ministers from the Maharashtra government.
Posters and hoardings have been put up in several locations starting from the Lucknow airport to Ayodhya. The posters show Shinde on the background of the Ram Temple, some of them also have faces of his son Shrikant Shinde, Shiv Sena leaders Balasaheb Thackeray and Anand Dighe, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, home minister Amit Shah, Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath and BJP president JP Nadda.
“It is an important day and an important step for us. The last time we had come here was when we were a part of the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi. We were sad because we had a sentiment that we had forgotten Hindutva by sitting with the Congress and NCP. But now we are very happy. Balasaheb Thackeray had said he will shut the shop of Shiv Sena if he ever has to sit with the Congress. Today, we are taking ahead the thoughts of Balasaheb Thackeray,” said Naresh Mhaske, Shiv Sena leader and former mayor of Thane Municipal Corporation.
This is being seen as an important step by the Shinde camp to stake claim to the Hindutva agenda in the ongoing tussle for claiming the legacy of Thackeray. The Ram Temple has remained one of the core issues for Shiv Sena for decades now.
Thousands of party workers, primarily from Thane and Mumbai, have already reached Ayodhya by train.
“We are rallying behind Eknath Shinde with all our strength. Not only do we have a support base in Maharashtra, but we have several people supporting us in Uttar Pradesh as well. The Uttar Pradesh government itself has given as a lot of support. Our party workers in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra have been instrumental in organising this show of strength,” said Purvesh Sarnaik of Yuva Sena (of Eknath Shinde group).
Shinde will arrive in Ayodhya at 10.45 am at Ram Setu park, and walk from there Park to Ram Temple thereafter. After reaching the temple at 12 pm, he will take Darshan at the temple till 1 pm. Then he will visit the Bhagwan Rishabh Dev Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya. At 2 pm, he will visit Hanuman Gadi. Thereafter, he will hold a press conference at 2.30 pm. At 3.30 pm, he will visit Laxman Kila to seek blessings of all saints. At 6 in the evening, he will hold Sharayu Aarti. He will then have dinner with CM Yogi Adityanath in Lucknow, and then head back to Mumbai.